Looking to brush up on your game writing knowledge? We’ve collected the top-ranking and highest-rated game writing books to help you with self-studying your way to success.
Reading books that cover a variety of storytelling techniques will help you to hone your skills as a writer. You’ll find these techniques in storytelling, fiction, and literature classes. But you’ll also need to learn about software and game writing specific techniques that a traditional writer is unlikely to know.
Game writers need to develop a unique set of skills as they’ll be creating flow charts that map out all possible outcomes, fleshing out side quests for users to embark on, and writing dialogue for all characters. You’ll want to learn how to use interactive story design software, including Twine and Inkle Writer.
Here are the 6 best books about game writing for those who want to begin learning about video game writing or expand their current skillset and scope of knowledge.
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1. Slay the Dragon: Writing Great Video Games
By Robert Denton Bryant, Keith Giglio
This book was made with traditional writers in mind. It introduces the concepts you’ll need to master interactive narrative storytelling. The authors of this book are certainly experts. Robert Denton Bryant has worked in video games as a publisher and developer and Keith Giglio has worked as a screenwriter, producer, and game narrative designer.
Topics covered: the “no-act” structure, writing game characters, crafting emotionally meaningful gameplay, bringing a game world alive
Who is this book best for? Traditional writers who want to make the shift to interactive storytelling.
2. Video Game Storytelling: What Every Developer Needs to Know About Narrative Techniques
By Evan Skolnick
Although aimed at game developers rather than aspiring game writers, this guide can give you key insights into storytelling within games. It uses real games to exhibit points and techniques, perfect for someone who needs to visually learn. This book is written by a game writer and producer.
Topics covered: the basics of storytelling, deepening the player experience with story, crafting memorable narratives
Who is this book best for? Game developers or individuals with design-heavy experience rather than writing-specific experience.
3. The Game Narrative Toolbox
By Tobias Heussner, Toiya Kristen Finely, Jennifer Brandes Hepler, Ann Lemay
This book draws from the knowledge of four narrative designers and includes exercises throughout for you to get some hands-on experience. This will be a book game writers can keep on hand for reference throughout their careers.
Topics covered: concepting, testing, dialogue trees
Who is this book best for? New game writers trying to build their portfolio.
4. Procedural Storytelling in Game Design
By Tanya X. Short
This book explores procedural storytelling as explained via various developers in this collection of essays. You’ll get a variety of viewpoints and thoughts, making this valuable for those exploring procedural storytelling for the first time.
Topics covered: procedural game design, static and traditional game design, the adaptation of characterization and worldbuilding into game design, construction of narrative systems, how to write procedural dialog
Who is this book best for? Those with moderate to high-level understanding of game writing and design.
5. Narrative Design for Indies: Getting Started
By Edwin McRae
Note: You may not like this book if you’re not one for humor and sarcasm in your non-fiction books.
Topics covered: narrative design, techniques of video game storytelling
Who is this book best for? Those looking into narrative design for RPG.
6. The Ultimate Guide to Video Game Writing and Design
By Flint Dille, John Zuur Platten
This guide, essentially a textbook for aspiring game writers and designers, is authored by top designers.
Topics covered: scriptwriting, game bible creation, creation of design documentation
Who is this book best for? Anyone aspiring to build a career in video game writing.